The program emphasizes interdisciplinary training in all areas of modern microbiology.  The first year of the program involves fundamental coursework and three research-based rotations in laboratories of the student's choosing. A qualifying examination is held in the second year.  Advanced coursework, journal clubs, and dissertation research occur in the second and subsequent years.  It is expected that completion of the program will require five to six years.

To broaden their research experience, students are introduced to research at the national and international levels through seminars presented by outside speakers and by attendance at national and international scientific meetings.  Students take an active role in inviting and hosting speakers at UAB, and they are strongly encouraged to present their own results at outside meetings.  An annual retreat held off-campus allows students to present their research and fosters collegiality between students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty.